Permaculture is a compound word that combines the individual elements of permanence and culture. It is a system of principles upon which a society integrates agriculture and social design with natural features found in the local ecosystem. Above all else, those who follow the tenets of permaculture care for the earth and see to it that their presence has no negative impacts on their surrounding environment. The concept of permaculture is exhibited no more brilliantly than on Bona Fide farm on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua.
When first arriving to the farm, you cannot help but notice the abundance of smiling faces. There are people cleaning dishes in the kitchen, people composting the plants, people selling homemade tinctures, and people simply enjoying a good book. The one trait they all had in common was the expression on their face. Despite the lack of common material possessions that we are all used to here in the United States, the quality of life on Bona Fide seems to be comparable to if not greater than the quality we enjoy.
By utilizing the land around them and maximizing the efficiency of their space, those living on the farm are able to completely support themselves. Bona Fide operates on the core principle of producing no waste. All food is prepared from the plants grown on the property while anything not consumed is fed to dogs or used in compost to later aid in the growth of more plants. Even human waste is also composted and given a purpose. Each piece of the farm works like an individual cog in a well-oiled machine. The community is tight-knit and they enjoy life together. Personal problems, as well as accomplishments, are shared between one another in an effort to maintain this feeling of belonging and purpose.
My experience on the farm left me with a slight feeling of culture shock. It’s difficult from my comfortable position to understand exactly how those on the farm truly enjoyed the way they live, but I am not one to judge another person’s way of life. If they can integrate with their environment without causing harm and support themselves sustainably with a smile on their face, maybe there’s a thing or two I could learn from their philosophy.